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AMA News and Notes: November 2013

November 05, 2013

AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association Government Relations Department. Designed to inform motorcyclists of rights-related issues and events in the United States and around the world, AMA News & Notes welcomes your input. Suggestions and editorial contributions can be sent to AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris at nharis@ama-cycle.org.

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            Washington D.C.: A recent survey found that more than three-fourths of Americans fear that E15 fuel may damage car engines and fuel system components. E15 is a fuel blend of up to 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has approved for use in 2001-and-newer passenger vehicles. Ethanol is grain alcohol produced from crops such as corn that is mixed with gasoline to produce an ethanol-gasoline blend motor fuel.
            E15 is not approved for use in any motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, lawn mowers and other small engines. Since 2011, the AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about possible damage to the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs currently in use by the inadvertent use of E15, which is now becoming available at retail fueling stations.
            The survey findings were released on Oct. 2 by the American Petroleum Institute, which sponsored the poll. The API is a national trade association that represents America's oil and natural gas industry. Some 77 percent of registered voters are concerned that ethanol blends above a 10 percent level can cause severe damage to car engines and fuel system components, according to the poll. Also, 69 percent of those surveyed said that using more corn for ethanol production could increase consumer prices for groceries due to a reduction in the corn supply for food, food products and animal feed.
            Research results released by the Coordinating Research Council indicate that E15 would damage millions of post-2001 model-year vehicles even though the EPA has approved the use of E15 in those vehicles. The study concluded that E15 would result in fuel-system failures in cars and other approved vehicles.
            Moreover, the California Air Resources Board has told the AMA that even if it approves the sale of the new E15 ethanol-gasoline blend in California, the blend wouldn't appear in the market for several years. Specifically, CARB wanted time to complete the necessary vehicle testing and rule development in order to introduce a new transportation fuel into California's market. CARB made the comment in response to a letter from Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, who expressed concern about potential misfueling of E15 into motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.

Washington D.C.: The U.S. Forest Service is proposing a new "ecological restoration policy" that the AMA fears could be used to arbitrarily limit access to motorized trails. The proposed policy, published in the Federal Register on Sept. 12, "has the potential to create de facto Wilderness by administrative fiat," said AMA Vice President for Government Relations Wayne Allard, on Oct. 14.
            In a letter to the Forest Service dated Oct. 1, Allard noted: "The AMA recognizes there are areas that should be preserved untouched for future generations. Congress recognized this as well. As a result, it passed the Wilderness Act of 1964. The AMA supports Wilderness designations as long as they meet the stringent conditions set forth in the 1964 law."
            According to the Forest Service, the proposed policy defines ecological restoration as "the process of assisting the recovery of resilience and the capacity of a system to adapt to change if the environment where the system exists has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. Ecological restoration focuses on reestablishing ecosystem functions by modifying or managing the composition, structure, arrangement, and processes necessary to make terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems sustainable, and resilient under current and future conditions."
            Using this definition, Allard said, the goals of ecological restoration have the potential to directly contradict the Multiple Use Act of 1960, which specifically states: "the national forests are established and shall be administered for outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish purposes."
            The Multiple Use Act considers outdoor recreation to be a category that also must be protected at a sustainable level.

            Irvine, Calif.: In another move intended to help make the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's safety tips and practical strategies even more accessible to riders, the MSF has released its first official educational app on iTunes for use with iPhones and iPads. Titled “Dr. Jim’s Riding Tips,” the app uses existing MSF self-paced safety lessons to help current motorcycle owners improve their riding skills, and is priced at $1.99 on iTunes.

            The app features Dr. James Heideman - MSF’s director of licensing programs - and incorporates Heideman’s 10-video series, which is based on the MSF longstanding publication, “You and Your Motorcycle: Riding Tips.” It also allows motorcyclists to use their own motorcycles to practice basic maneuvering and braking techniques at low speeds in a practice riding area of their choosing. Additionally, the app shows the user how to properly prepare the practice area, set up the various paths of travel and conduct the drills.

            “MSF’s goal with ‘Dr. Jim’s Riding Tips’ is two-fold: to make accessing and understanding these basic motorcycling practice drills as easy as possible, and to help riders prepare for their state's licensing test,” said Heideman. “The only prerequisite skill necessary is the basic ability to ride a motorcycle. Naturally, this includes experience using the brakes, throttle, clutch and transmission. But the mobile app is designed so that anyone with real riding experience, and an iPhone or an iPad, can implement these MSF safety lessons at their own pace.”

            Littlerock, Calif.: Riders and their families are encouraged to attend an upcoming public meeting at Jackie Robinson Park, 8773 East Avenue R, Littlerock, Calif., 93543 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 20. This important meeting will present the proposed Littlerock OHV Recreation Park. Topics include a review of OHV Park Planning Guidelines, the site selection process and additional background information for the proposed facility. Project updates and maps can be viewed at the LA County Parks website.

            For additional information, please contact Robert Ettleman, Department of Parks and Recreation, 510 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90020; rettleman@parks.lacounty.gov; or (213)-351-5134


            Springfield, Ill.: At the request of ABATE of Illinois, House Resolution 524, sponsored by Rep. Kay Hatcher (R-Yorkville) and Senate Resolution 634, sponsored by Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline), “urge Congress to pass H.R. 875 to scientifically determine the effects that E-15 will have on internal combustion engines of all types.”

            To help support the federal effort, individuals, groups and state motorcyclists’ rights organizations are encouraged to contact their state representatives and senators to encourage them to introduce similar resolutions.

            Lake George, N.Y.: Americade, an AMA National Convention, will open on June 2, 2014 with a huge lakeside party for all preregistered attendees. Americade’s motorcycle expo---TourExpo, rides and tours, and more factory demo rides than any other U.S. event will open from Tuesday, June 3 through Saturday, June 7. Many new events are planned for the week, including special Saturday events. Details for the 2014 event will appear in January on www.americade.com. Pre-registration will open on January 25. 

            Reno, Nev.: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published a Proposed Rule in the Federal Register to designate critical habitat for the Bi-State distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. In total, approximately 1,868,017 acres fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation in Carson City, Lyon, Douglas, Mineral, and Esmeralda Counties, Nevada, and Alpine, Mono, and Inyo Counties, California.

            The FWS cites numerous examples of activities that may impact the sage-grouse habitat, including specific references to motorized (and non-motorized) recreation as actions that would result in the sage-grouse’s avoidance of specified areas during one or more seasonal periods. Left unchecked, the FWS believes that a “direct and functional loss” of sage-grouse habitat would result.

            The ESA states that critical habitat designations and revisions are made on the basis of the best available scientific data after taking into consideration the economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. Exclusions from critical habitat may be made if it is determined that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the critical habitat, unless it is determined that the failure to designate such area as critical habitat will result in the extinction of the species.

            It is crucial that OHV enthusiasts get involved in the designation process. Two meetings will be held to gather public input:

  • Nov. 5, 2013, 4-6 p.m., Tri-County Fairgrounds, Home Economics Room, Sierra Street and Fair Drive, Bishop, CA 93514
  • Nov. 6, 2013, 1-3 p.m., Smith Valley Community Center, 2783 State Route 208, Wellington, NV 89444.

            For general information on the proposed critical habitat designation as well as information about the proposed critical habitat specific to Nevada, contact Edward D. Koch, State Supervisor, USFWS, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Suite 234, Reno, NV 89502; telephone 775-861-6300; or fax 775-861-6301.

Submit comments online or by mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2013–0042; Division of Policy and Directives Management; USFWS; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. Comments are due by December 27, 2013.

            Nelsonville, Ohio: The Wayne National Forest will be conducting a voluntary forest-wide recreation use visitor survey from October 3, 2013 through September 30, 2014. The national survey is designed to determine how many people visited the forest and the recreation activities in which visitors participated while they were there.

            Forest users may see Forest Service employees talking with visitors as they leave the Wayne National Forest’s developed recreation areas, such as campgrounds, trailheads, picnic areas, beaches, boat launches, and general forest areas (lakes, rivers, and roads). If the location is an interview site, there will be a “Recreation Use Survey Ahead” sign posted, and the interviewers will be wearing bright orange vests.

            “The survey is entirely voluntary,” said Anne Carey, Forest Supervisor. “We encourage visitors to participate in the interviews with us. We welcome the opportunity to talk with people who visit their national forests and appreciate them taking a few minutes to participate in the interviews.”

For more information, contact the Wayne National Forest at 740-753-0101 (Athens), 740-373-9055 (Marietta), or 740-534-6500 (Ironton) or visit the following website: http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/nvum

            Pickerington, Ohio: The 2013 American Motorcyclist Association Congress convened recently for its 46th annual meeting. The meeting brings together elected delegates from around the country to consider, debate and vote on recommended changes to the rules and regulations governing AMA-sanctioned motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle sporting events.
            AMA Congress is the rulemaking body for amateur and Pro-Am motorcycle and ATV competition sanctioned by the AMA. AMA Congress also sets the rules, procedures and policies that govern recreational motorcycle activities sanctioned by the AMA.
            The 2013 assembly of AMA Congress began with referee training, a government relations report, new delegate orientation and meetings of the general rules and technical committees.

            AMA members can find their AMA Congress representatives at the following link: www.americanmotorcyclist.com/about/amacongress.aspx

            Harrisburg, Pa.: House Bill 892, sponsored by Rep. Representative Seth M. Grove (R-York), would restrict an applicant for a motorcycle learner’s permit to no more frequently than three times within a five-year period from the time of first application.

House Bill 1060, sponsored by Rep. Mark Keller (R-New Bloomfield), would permit motorcycle owners to mount their registration plates vertically if they pay an additional $20 fee and display special motorcycle registration plates featuring the identifying characters in a vertical alignment. The bill would explicitly prohibit motorcycle registration plates with horizontal identifying characters from being vertically mounted.

Senate Bill 596, sponsored by Sen. Senator Donald C. White (R-Indiana), would permit motorcyclists and bicycles to proceed through an intersection controlled by a traffic-actuated signal if the operator determines the detection device did not recognize their vehicle. The vehicle must first come to a complete stop and proceed with due caution only when it is safe to do so.

            Wellsburg, W.Va.: The commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles has decided that a proposed ordinance in Brooke County to require ATV owners to register their vehicles and display decal stickers would violate state law.

            The plan would have required the stickers to be displayed after ATV owners pay county property taxes on the vehicle and was intended to address resident complaints about ATV riders. 

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